Saturday, November 21, 2009

So-called "service"

Lottie and Janet, from my last post, would have been considered “service animals” during their time as seeing-eye dogs. They would fall in the same category as the myriad animals drafted for service in wartime (see Veterans Day post).

Service animals have no choice! They are selected and trained to do things for humans, often things that have nothing to do with the lives they’d otherwise lead. They perform involuntarily and typically to their own detriment – static, robotic lives, ill health, death.

Non-human animals do not exist to serve human animals!

On Jan. 4 of this year, the NYTimes magazine ran a long story on the many ways that “service animals” help people. The story blurb read: “It's no longer just guide dogs for blind people. Service animals now include monkeys for quadriplegics, parrots for psychotics and at least one assistance duck. Should the law recognize all of them?” (Note: another service animal mentioned in the story: a guide miniature horse, pictured above. Advantages of the horse, named "Panda," included his mild and trainable nature and the fact that he could outlive five-seven seeing-eye dogs.)

The letters to the editor in response to the story included one from a philosophy prof. His key points follow: “[The author] considers various moral and legal issues related to the use of exotic nonhuman species as guides for disabled humans. Except for one: the interests of the animals themselves. . . . they are persons in their own right, born with a capacity for natural freedom that their ''service'' entirely deprives them of.

“Guide animals are brutally separated from others of their kind, are discouraged from seeking affection from other human beings and are reduced to a life of perpetual bondage to their masters. If there is a meaningful difference between ''service animal'' and ''animal slave,'' I fail to see it.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For me, there's not a more sorrowful face than that of a dog servicing some human. It absolutely hurts me to the core to witness such a fate for a dog.